Location - Paluma Range National Park, North Queensland, Australia
Distance - Approximately 16 km loop (via Bullocky Tom's Track)
Time - Allow 7-10 hours for 4 people
Grade - V4 A2 IV ** (French Grading System)
Approach - 50 - 90 minutes
Descent - 3 hour for 4-6 people
Exit - 1-3 hours depending on route
Elevation loss - Approximately 400 metres
Flash flooding level - Medium
Longest rappel - R1-50m (also R8-35m in Crystal Creek)
This creek will remind you of "The Terraces"; waterfall after waterfall albeit quite mossy and moist. Very beautiful, untouched scenery with damp, mossy rocks and large king ferns surrounding the creek.
There are three options to do this trip:
- Organise a car shuttle from Paluma Dam to Mango Tree carpark (the Rockslides car park). Walk in via Paluma Dam past Crystal Falls to Gold Creek Falls, and rappel down the creek to the inlet plant.
- Or walk from Paluma Dam to Crystal Falls, rappel down the falls to Gold Creek fork and rock climb up Gold Creek to the Bullocky Tom's Track and walk back to Paluma Dam.
- Or walk up the Bullocky Tom's Track to Gold Creek Falls and rappel down the falls and continue downstream to the water intake plant and water back along the road to the Mango Tree carpark.
I recommend starting early and hike up "Bullocky Tom's Track" to Gold Creek Falls (two hours) and then abseil down thirteen waterfalls to join into Crystal Creek's lower section, some abseils are optional.
Two more raps before exiting the creek at the intake plant and walking back along the road to the car.
Gold Creek has many waterfalls and plenty of natural anchors to rappel from - i.e. well-rooted solid trees. If a tree is starting to look damaged or rig barked, please add some webbing and link or use another tree.
It's very beautiful but the rocks can be slippery due to the moist and mossy nature. King ferns are present in this area.
Most of Gold Creek is shaded by the rainforest canopy so sun protection is not needed until you enter Crystal Creek.
Here's a map with all the suggested routes:
Note take we take the Paluma tracks to Crystal Ck or Gold Ck so no bush bashing is involved.
R1 Gold Creek Falls (optional)
RHS, tree, 50m
Optional - can walk down Bullocky Tom's Track a few metres and then scramble down steep terrain on loose soil.
R2 (approach from the RHS)
LHS, tree, 10m
RHS, tree, 15m
Centre or LHS, tree, 10m
, tree, 20m
RHS, tree, 8m
Can scramble down on the right
RHS, tree, 25m
Rappel 10m to ledge and then continue to rappel down next falls.
R8 (approach by scrambling up to tree on right)
RHS, tree, 15m into pool
LHS, tree, 10-15m
Can combine with R10 to make one long rappel ~40m
LHS, tree, 10-15m
Rock Scramble to next section ~400m.
R11 Corkscrew Falls
RHS, tree, 30m
RHS, tree, 10m
LHS, tree, 15m
Optional - Can easily scramble down left side.
ENTER CRYSTAL CREEK BEFORE R7
- Option 1: Continue down Crystal Creek to the Intake Plant.
- Option 2: Immediately after Crystal Creek R8 (which can be scramble around right) is Bathtub Creek on your true right. Ascend this this creek to Paluma Village to Paluma Dam Track.
What to bring
A day pack with
- About 1L of water for the walk in. Refill at the creek.
- Food and snacks for the day.
- Shoes; It's recommend shoes that have grip on wet mossy granite rocks, drain & dry quickly.
- Insect repellent
- A 60m rope, harness, rappel device, prusik and carabiner as a third hand.
- A headlight (or torch)
- Please bring an extra set of clothes to leave in the car at the bottom.
- First aid kit and a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon)
There are various natural anchors throughout the canyon, however, it is not unusual to come across damaged trees, especially after large flooding events. Please use sound judgement when considering previously installed anchors, like tape slings, ropes, and other textiles. There are no bolts in this canyon.
Along the route there are various sections of wet, slimy, and dry rock, as with all canyon environments. Please be mindful of your traction and regularly test your grip throughout the route as you cannot rely on the colour or texture of the rock to determine its safety against slippage. Take caution when near cliff edges.
No responsibility or liability is taken for any harm, death or loss of property resulting from the use of this article. You must carry anchor building materials, be experienced and use your own judgement when canyoning. Flooding events can strip anchors and change the canyons layout and conditions. Improper and insufficient experience will result in serious injuries or in many cases death. Always respect all signs you encounter and take everything in you brought with you.
This canyoning topo is for illustration-purposes only.
X / XX - Single and twin bolt anchor.
NA - Natural anchor such as a tree or rock.
TL / TR / C - True left, true right and centre when looking downstream.
R1-8m / R2-6m - First rappel and its height in metres, second rappel and height.
Optional - These rappels can be avoided by exiting prior or walking around.
See the Crystal Creek article for rappels downstream of the junction.
- Stinging tree (Gympie Gympie) may be present in this creek.
- If you see trees are being worn and ring barked (from pulling down ropes), please use webbing and a quicklink.
Please note that an activity permit may be required in national parks.
If this information is outdated or you would like to make a correction, please contact us.